Updated: Dec 24, 2019
Under Internal Revenue Service rules, a 501(c)3 is a non-profit for religious, charitable or educational purposes. These types of non-profits typically conduct research and can only engage in a limited amount of lobbying, advocacy or political activity.
Donations to 501(c)3 groups are tax-deductible.
A 501(c)4 is a social welfare group and can engage in more advocacy and lobbying. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling allows businesses and unions to donate unlimited money to 501(c)4 groups, and they can be tied to so-called “super PACs” which raised and spent millions on political advocacy during the 2012 election.
Donations to 501(c)4 groups are not tax-deductible, and donors are often not disclosed.
(c)3’s gotta be careful on what they do, as it’s purpose is education & research (which is what they state).
So, what’s the issue? Per the linked (above) 990 for the support fund:
Over $600k transferred to the Action Fund for the sole purpose of lobbying. It gets better though, per the IRS regarding what (c)3’s can and can’t do:
In general, no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying). A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.
Legislation includes action by Congress, any state legislature, any local council, or similar governing body, with respect to acts, bills, resolutions, or similar items (such as legislative confirmation of appointive office), or by the public in referendum, ballot initiative, constitutional amendment, or similar procedure. It does not include actions by executive, judicial, or administrative bodies.
An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation.
Organizations may, however, involve themselves in issues of public policy without the activity being considered as lobbying. For example, organizations may conduct educational meetings, prepare and distribute educational materials, or otherwise consider public policy issues in an educational manner without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.
2018’s Support Fund transfer btw:
(Quick note: the Action Fund contributes to political candidates, so is it possible that some of the was used to fund political campaigns? Scroll down here).
From 12/19/19 (take note, Virginia):
NEW YORK – Today, Everytown Law, the litigation arm of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a part of Everytown for Gun Safety, sent a letter to the National Sheriffs’ Association, the National Association of Counties, the Major County Sheriffs of America, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the National League of Cities urging them to condemn the recent wave of “Second Amendment Sanctuary” resolutions passed by some local governments. These resolutions typically declare that the local board or sheriff intends to refuse their legal and constitutional responsibility to enforce democratically-enacted gun violence prevention laws passed by their state legislatures based on their own personal opinion as to whether the laws are constitutional. Despite holding no legal merit, these resolutions set a dangerous precedent and undermine the rule of law by encouraging law enforcement officials to refuse to enforce gun safety measures that they incorrectly and unilaterally consider unconstitutional. They also threaten the safety of communities nationwide by fostering distrust in law enforcement and may deter people from reporting individuals that may hurt themselves or others.
“These local officials may say they’re ‘defending the constitution,’ but they’re actually ripping it apart,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. “Americans expect our sheriffs and law enforcement to uphold their oaths, respect the will of the people, and enforce the laws of their states — and that most definitely includes life-saving gun safety laws.”
No legislation has been passed in VA yet, so the Everytown Support Fund is attempting to influence others to go against resolutions designed to block bills that are not up for vote until January at the earliest.
Moms Demand Action is the “grassroots” arm of Everytown. They also raise money (tax exempt) at the local level for the Support Fund. Some examples
Further, Mike Bloomberg (running for President in 2020) is using the Everytown email list for his own political needs:
Again via the IRS, if those email address are connected via the Support Fund:
On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.
If you are a subscriber to MDA emails, you also get a place at the bottom to make a donation to either the Action Fund or the Support Fund:
Which then raises the question about the fund transfers from the Support Fund to the Action Fund
Is Everytown allowing people to make donations to the Support Fund and allowing them to claim it on their taxes for a break, and that same money is then being used to lobby via the Action Fund?
What are your thoughts?
And fun fact: the Everytown Support Fund went after the NRA’s IRS tax exempt status this year.